A spike in home break-ins in one of Denver's most prestigious historic neighborhoods has people taking matters into their own hands by hiring temporary private security patrols.
"Almost every week, there's some kind of break-in," said one Hilltop resident who did not wish to be identified for fear the thieves who targeted her home will come back. "[They] came in and literally cleaned us out."
After knocking on a neighbor's door, who was home, the thieves went into her house through a locked window and took her late father-in-law's war medals.
"He fought in WWII and he's gone now, and my husband had his war medals and they stole them," she said, breaking down in tears.
Denver Police Commander Magen Dodge said crime has gone up across the city, but the Uniform Crime Report shows that burglary in the Hilltop area has increased almost 167% in the first 10 months of 2015 compared to the same time frame last year.
Commander Dodge said that only accounts for 3 percent of burglaries in District 3, but police are increasing patrols in response.
She said there is an organized crew of burglars plaguing Denver, and police hope to present a case to a grand jury next month that will bring stiffer penalties than individual prosecutions.
Still, Dodge said, neighbors are not always reporting suspicious behavior.
Janet Taggart lives across the street from a house that was recently burglarized and saw the thieves leaving the home.
"I didn't know about all the break-ins or I would have called about it. I thought it was their son and his friends or something," said Taggart. "We are looking out more now, and we do have a safe in the house and so, valuables, I'm putting more of them in the safe."
Other neighbors, who did not wish to be identified, said they are taking matters into their own hands by hiring a temporary private security patrol until the neighborhood organization can figure out a more permanent fix.